chapter  4
32 Pages

French Tactical Nuclear Weapons

WithRobert Grant

This chapter discusses the genesis of French tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) forces and doctrine, tracing governmental policy and debate to the present and focusing on the doctrinal debates of the cohabitation regime of the mid-1980s. Tactical nuclear weapons have long provoked controversy in France, due to their somewhat ambiguous role in French defense doctrine and their potential contribution to Western European security. When France began planning its nuclear force posture in the early 1960s, tactical weapons were of secondary importance to the development of French strategic nuclear forces. The French emphasize that while North Atlantic Treaty Organization tactical nuclear weapons are intended for operational use on the battlefield, French TNW have an exclusively deterrent role. The outcome of this analysis was a planned change in TNW force posture that will result in significantly increased ranges for both the ground- and air-launched components of French tactical nuclear forces.